Saturday, May 23, 2009

Aigina to Kiato through the Corinth Canal

The day of Mark's departure dawned. It had been fantastic having him on board, I'd learnt a lot, Kika was better for the experience, I just hope it doesn't take Mark too long to recover from his "holiday".

As we walked round the harbour towards the hydrofoil that would be the start of Mark's homeward journey, I spotted Blue Marlin - what a fantastic surprise. Over coffee we briefly caught up and they tried to persuade me to stay another day and sail together through the Corinth Canal. It was a very tempting offer, but it would mean I'd be late for my rendezvous with Rob and family. Reluctantly I parted, with the hope we'd meet-up in the Ionian.

In a final shopping spree in the hardware shops I found a circuit breaker that I could substitute for the one on the autopilot. Rushing back to the boat I quickly swapped the old for the new breaker and set off. Wonders of wonders the autopilot worked. However I'm starting to learn it's better not to prematurely celebrate autopilot repairs and sure enough after an hour a burnt wire smell started emanating from the area around the autopilot electronics. I decided I should play safe and hand-steer towards the Canal, planning to investigate while waiting for my transit.

I tied-up at the waiting pontoon and bounded into the canal authority building. It was three o'clock and I was unsure if I'd be able to transit the canal that day. After the wait to transit the Panama Canal and the hassle associated with Suez, I couldn't believe how quickly the paper work was sorted; one form "sign here and here" and then was asked if a transit in 5 minutes time would be too soon for me. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was then offered a beer and some snacks - must have been dreaming. Back on the boat I waited and sure enough after a couple of minutes the bridge disappeared into the water and the lights changed to green. Too good to be true, but it was for definitely for real, as I made my way into the canal and was rapidly dwarfed by the 70m+ limestone sides. If I'd thought about it in advance I'm sure I could have recovered my canal fees with some paying tourists. The shortest, friendliest and most impressive canal so far.

I couldn't help but feel a little bit smug as I exited the canal and saw the long line of cars waiting for me. The day continued to improve with a decent wind on a flat sea, giving a great sail towards the bustling town of Kiato.

Kiato: N38deg 00.8' E22deg 45.1'

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